Schools closed on ‘catastrophic’ bushfire day

15Jan

Temperatures throughout the state are predicted to reach as high as 44 in some areas, accompanied by strong winds and low humidity.

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The Country Fire Service (CFS) has summoned five fixed wing firefighting aircraft and two surveillance helicopters for duty from Wednesday.

Emergency Services Minister Michael Wright said the aircraft were being deployed earlier than usual to help counter the unprecedented November heatwave.

The forecast scorchers on Wednesday and Thursday follow Adelaide’s first November heatwave on record, when the city sweltered through eight days of temperatures above 35 degrees until Monday.

‘Catastrophic’ fire warning

Eleven schools and pre-schools throughout the state have been closed on Wednesday.

The closed schools are in the 140 areas of the state identified by the CFS as having a high bushfire risk.

“The safety of our children, teachers and staff is our top priority,” Education Department deputy chief executive Jan Andrews said in a statement.

The conditions have prompted the CFS to issue a bushfire warning of catastrophic conditions in both the Flinders and north-west pastoral districts – the first time the term has been used.

New bushfire advice systems have been adopted for this summer, with catastrophic rated above extreme and severe risk conditions.

The catastrophic category rates the risk as similar to those conditions prevalent on Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in February.

In such conditions, the CFS says any fire is highly likely to be fast moving and uncontrollable, with the safest option of residents in bushfire areas to leave the properties early.

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